Grenn Centurions are designed and bred as commanders
I’m writing this down because to this day, I can’t believe it happened. Like in any Unicity, a large part of our population is Grenn. They live among us, because like most cities, we revolted, or our corporations got out of line, or any of the other various reasons the Coalition can find to send in their armies of bugs. And then they have to integrate and live among us. And it’s never easy. I lived in a nice city block. It had a few office buildings but mostly housing for families. And every day, as I watered my plants, this gigantic Grenn Centurion would walk by in their dress shirt, wearing their tie, little suitcase by their side. And every day that big white bug would greet me kindly.
“Good day ma’am,” they’d say, and I’d nod, not knowing what to think of them. I know they led armies into battle, commanded battalions to murder tens or hundreds of people. They’re a Centurion, it’s what they do. I tried not to hold it against this one. And I suppose I don’t anymore now. Not after all of this.
I’ve lived in that neighborhood for close to 28 years now. It wasn’t much, but it was mine. Ours. We had a little community, with our barber shop, our grocery store. Kids played on the sidewalks and we tried not to judge. We surely didn’t judge the Centurion. Tried not to. I knew they worked in one of the administrative offices down the road, which explained the suitcase and the tie. And I thought nothing of it. Just another one of us going to work. But we all heard it, that day. My little headset blinked, it beeped. A warning broadcast. I saved it so you can read it.
“[ WARNING: THIS AREA HAS BEEN RECLAIMED. PROPERTY OWNERS HAVE COMMITTED TAX FRAUD. THE NEIGHBORHOOD WILL RETURN TO THE UNICITY AND ALL INFRASTRUCTURE IS FORFEIT. YOU HAVE THREE HOURS TO EVACUATE. ]”
It was from an Auditor, sent by MARKET. I looked out my window and I saw everyone scurrying out of the streets. People were getting into their cars, hastily packed luggage trailing behind them. I wasn’t going to leave. I was too old and frail to pack up. I thought I had lived a good life, so I might as well go down with my little neighborhood. I started making sandwiches for the people in my building, it seemed like a good use of my time. At about two and a half hours in, the machines came. I looked out my window and saw the disc-headed Auditor standing there, impatiently checking his time. His lackadaisical attitude sent shivers down my spine. Most folks were out of my building, but I knew that wouldn’t be the case for everyone. And then I saw them; The Centurion.
“THIS WAY EVERYBODY. THE BUS IS READY!” the Centurion yelled, leading people out of another apartment building into a big bus. The lonesome Centurion was running from building to building, deputizing people, running into them. And then the shaking started. The first building on the block came down in a blaze of rubble and dust. The Centurion turned around and looked at it, panic on their face. They immediately ran into the building closest to the destruction. When that started rumbling, the Centurion jumped out a window on the third floor, landing on the roof of the supermarket. The Centurion turned to some of their companions down the street.
“ALL CLEAR, CHECK ALL THE BUILDINGS!” as the tower they were just in collapsed behind them. Then they turned and saw me.
“What are you… GAJUDY! WHAT ARE YOU STILL DOING THERE?!” the Centurion yelled at me from across the street. I… didn’t know how to reply. Before I knew it, they had jumped off the supermarket, running across the shaking, vibrating street to my building. It was shaking more and more, dust was starting to fall down from the ceiling, cracks appearing everywhere. And let me tell you, I was terrified. The rumbling machines were now about a building away from me. Before I knew it, my door flew through my living room and in the doorway they stood. A gigantic, white bug, their horn aimed at where my door used to be.
“Gajudy! Why are you still… Look, there’s no time!” they said. The bug opened my wardrobe and pulled out my clothes, grabbed a bag and shoved them in, “We’ve gotta go, Gajudy.”
“How… how do you even know my name?” I asked.
They paused, “You’re a staple of the community, of course I know you. That’s why I say hello to you everyday.”
“I-I’m a staple?” I laughed nervously.
The Centurion leapt onto me as the ceiling came down, shielding me. All I heard was cracking, crumbling concrete, steel bending under its own weight. I had never been that close to one. The four compound eyes blinked at me, face slightly pained from the weight on their back. Another crack. We fell. Rubble fell with us. We smacked into the floor below my apartment.
“My name is Marx. Should have introduced myself before,” the bug said in a short moment of peace, before the last floor gave way under us. The next thing I remember was a large crunching sound and as I opened my eyes, Marx was standing over me, lifting a bunch concrete off themselves, off of us. They offered their hand.
“We gotta go, Gajudy.”
Marx pulled me up, dusted me off and handed me my bag.
“Th-th-thank you, Marx.”
They put me on a bus out of the neighborhood and continued running from building to building, saving people. The simple office worker. The Grenn. The Centurion I’ll never forget.
This is the third installment of our four-part documentation on the Grenn. Today, we will discuss the Grenn Centurion.
One of the initial Coalition surveyor teams sent to investigate a colony of Grenn on Syrena-C651-F5b, submitted a hypothesis about phenotypical plasticity of the newfound species, as the team had footage of what seemed to be an improved version of the Grenn Legionnaire, the first subtype to be categorized. But this second subtype turned out to be not a bigger, more powerful Legionnaire, but genetically a totally different type of Grenn. Ethological analysis of groups of Grenn showed that the larger Grenn were leading other groups on various types of deployment, after which the large subtype was dubbed the Grenn Centurion. Genetic analysis quickly showed that the Grenn were a far more complicated species than initially thought. With many teams discreetly collecting DNA samples from all over Syrena-C651-F5b, it was discovered that there were as many as ten distinct varieties of Centurion due to the unique biology of this species. Where the Legionnaire and three other subtypes only had a set of haploid chromosomes with a unique sex chromosome, the Centurion was a diploid creature, a genetic combination of any two of the haploid subtypes (Legionnaire, Funditor, Videte, Curate).
A typical Centurion stands about two and a half meters tall, and is covered with a thick chitinous exoskeleton. They have six appendages, two for bipedal walking, two vestigial arms on the front side and two powerful large arms capable of manipulation and lifting heavy objects, such as heavy weapons. Their heads are covered with a thick chitinous cowl, protecting the nervous system, and their eyes, four in total, are slightly recessed into their skulls for additional protection. The only soft spot in their exoskeleton is on the front side, where their reproductive organs are settled.
In their natural environment, Centurions are the field commanders of a Grenn Legion. Their antennae are sensitive to the pheromones secreted by the Queen, and while the Queen makes the decisions, the Centurions see to it that the will of the Queen is being done. They make the tactical decisions on the field of battle and command the other subtypes of Grenn, who will do as they are told, when it’s told by a Centurion. Of all the subspecies, Centurions are the only ones able to reproduce, thereby dying in the process, but hatching a new Queen at the same time, perpetuating the Grenn life cycle.
In the Coalition age, Grenn Centurions are designed and bred as commanders of Grenn Legions tasked with an invasion. Commanding soldiers and employing battle tactics come natural to them and their enhanced intelligence makes them even more formidable at the head of an invading army. When Centurions have completed the compulsory five years of military service, many decide to remain in the army, partly because the substantial reenlistment bonus for quality commanders, partly because a Centurion is literally a born military leader. Those opting to pursue a civilian career often take on jobs in leadership positions and some become quite successful in the world of finance because their innate ability to take calculated risks in battle reflects on their business strategy.
Anyone who has ever seen a Centurion knows it is foolish to get into a fight with one. Their sheer size and power, combined with their aura of authority makes it abundantly clear that they were bred for one purpose: War.